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Acute liver failure and the molecular adsorbents recirculating system: Early experience in a tertiary care hospital in Mexico City

Nahum Méndez-Sánchez, Norberto C. Chávez-Tapia, Beatriz Espinoza, Magali Herrera-Gomar, Daniel Zamora-Valdés, Misael Uribe


Acute liver failure is a clinical condition associated with high mortality despite recent technological advances. Supportive devices such as the Molecular Adsorbents Recirculating System (MARS®) provide therapeutic strategies to add time to find an organ for orthotopic liver transplantation or to allow the native liver to recover sufficiently to make transplantation unnecessary. In this series of cases, we discuss our initial experiences with three patients with acute liver failure. One patient had high bilirubin levels caused by Epstein–Barr virus infection and responded well after three MARS sessions. In a second patient, MARS therapy was used to treat acute-onchronic liver failure caused by chronic hepatitis B virus infection that had not been treated previously; because of severe hemodynamic compromise, only one MARS session was performed. The third patient had an initial diagnosis of acute liver failure and cryptogenic hepatitis, and was treated with five MARS sessions as a supportive measure until the definitive diagnosis (metastatic disease) was performed. In all patients, MARS therapy was well tolerated and induced only mild hypokalemia. In conclusion, although MARS therapy was an effective strategy for these cases of liver failure and greatly improved the biochemical variables, its impact on the mortality rate has not yet been determined.

Key words. Liver failure, cholestasis, molecular adsorbents recirculating system, Epstein-Barr virus, hypokalemia

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The Official Journal of the Mexican Association of Hepatology, the Latin-American Association for the Study of the Liver and the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver

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